“If you want to come to one of the safest places in the world and give yourself a guaranteed crowd, well perhaps Australia is the place to be”
By James Dielhenn & Richard Damerell
Last Updated: 08/06/20 6:00am
Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder’s trilogy fight has received an offer to be staged at an Australian stadium on Christmas Day and is being considered by promoter Bob Arum.
Their third fight for the WBC heavyweight championship is targeted for November or December but must be in front of a crowd, Fury’s US-based promoter Arum previously told Sky Sports, revealing Australia, China or a new NFL venue in Las Vegas were in the running.
Australian promoter Dean Lonergan has exclusively revealed to Sky Sports the details of his proposal: “The suggestion was to go to a place called Bankwest Stadium, which can hold about 45,000 people. It’s the middle of summer down here.
“You could have pictures beaming out across the world to probably 170 plus countries, which is what that fight would get to.
“Drone shots of the Sydney Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, the amazing Sydney Harbour.
“It could go into Melbourne and Marvel Stadium. They had 50,000 people there for the UFC not so long ago, or we could do it at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.”
Promoter Lonergan worked with Top Rank’s Arum to stage Manny Pacquiao vs Jeff Horn in Brisbane three years ago. The UFC held Ronda Rousey’s famous loss to Holly Holm in Melbourne.
Lonergan said: “Wouldn’t it be great to do it on Boxing Day as a celebration of Jack Johnson’s victory for the heavyweight championship over Tommy Burns in 1908 in Rushcutters Bay, Sydney?
“That way, it would be broadcast back into the US on Christmas night.
“I think that would be an amazing time from a rating perspective, and also what a great celebration to really highlight what Jack Johnson did.
“Johnson has been so overlooked in the annals of history. Boxing fans know who he is, but I don’t know that the wider sporting audience does. I think he’s one of the all-time great boxers and of course the first African-American to win the heavyweight championship of the world. He had to chase Burns all around the world to do it.”
Lonergan explained how his proposal originated: “I put an email up to Bob Arum, maybe a month ago, maybe six weeks ago, with a budget attached suggesting that Australia is going to be one of the first countries in the world to open up to crowds.
“You’ve got a very good sports administrator down here, Peter V’landys, pushing very hard with the National Rugby League to get crowds back and next week you’re going to see, I think for the first time, between 500 and 1,000 people allowed back into corporate boxes.
“He’s trying to push for crowds of up to 15,000, I think, by the end of July.
“Australia and New Zealand have both done amazing jobs stamping out coronavirus, and pretty much in the next two to three weeks, I would expect, the reports will be no coronavirus left in Australia.
“On that basis, then you would expect crowds to be going back.
“I just made the point: ‘Bob, if Australia opens up, you could come down here. Here’s a budget, here’s what it could look like. We’ve worked together before it would be a great place to do it’.
“He’s [Bob Arum] open to the idea and obviously I was surprised to see in the media the other day that he said Australia.
“He told me Australia is in the mix, and it just comes down to what territories are going to be open and where are the guys prepared to go to.
“If America is open, and Las Vegas can take a crowd of 15,000 at the MGM Grand, well I guess that’s where they’ll go.
“But if America is not open and Britain is not open, well then you start looking elsewhere, and obviously I’m sure the Middle East would offer lots of opportunity, if it’s open. I don’t know what coronavirus is like there and obviously Bob has talked about Macau [in China].
“But if you want to come to one of the safest places in the world and give yourself a guaranteed crowd, well perhaps Australia is the place to be.
“I think Tyson Fury is one of the best, and I think he said it himself, the best boxing promoter since Muhammad Ali. Both those guys are great promoters.
“Tyson Fury would see tens of thousands of ex-Pat Brits who live down here turn out to see him, and Irish. I think that fight would be absolutely massive. I’ve been told that Tyson Fury has family living in Brisbane.”
Arum, who promotes Fury alongside the UK’s Frank Warren, told Sky Sports: “I can’t tell you where, but I’m pretty sure we’ll get this event on in November or December. We’re not sleeping. We’re working hard to get it done.”
Fury told Sky Sports about Wilder, who he defeated in their rematch after a draw in the first fight: “Still a very dangerous opponent, still a very hungry man, who is coming in there to prove his worth, to prove he can come back and become a two-time heavyweight champion.
“More dangerous than the last fight, for sure.”